Focus on the International Shame of Child Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation

Yvonne Rafferty, PhD

Yvonne Rafferty, PhD

The numbers are staggering. “It is estimated that 2 million girls ages 5 to 15 are initiated into the commercial sex industry each year, and that 1.2 million children under the age of 18 are trafficked throughout the world. Child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation are now recognized as a form of modern day slavery,” says Professor of Psychology Yvonne Rafferty, PhD.

Dr. Rafferty presented her paper “Child Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Psychological and Social Policy Perspectives” at the United Nations on March 5, 2007. This all day International Conference on “Trafficking in Women and Girls: Meeting the Challenge Together” was organized by the Permanent Mission of Belarus to the United Nations, the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, and Vital Voices Global Partnership.

She also presented a paper entitled “Trafficking in Girls: Risk and Protective Factors” at a parallel event scheduled with the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations.

A compelling issue
“Last year [while on sabbatical], I spent some time in Southeast Asia in order to explore the issues confronting children and youth. I learned so much about child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation and became compelled to act on behalf of these young victims,” says Dr. Rafferty. A brief summary of her activities in Southeast Asia was published in the winter issue of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues’ (SPSSI) newsletter Forward (page 8).

An in-depth interview with Dr. Rafferty was published in the Psych Eye, the Pace psychology department’s newsletter. Read the interview

In an excerpt from the Psych Eye, Dr. Rafferty explains:

“I represent the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) and Pace University at the United Nations (UN). Since SPSSI has special consultative status to the UN, my aim is to link social science research with UN policies pertaining to children in high risk settings. I am involved with three committees: Children’s Rights, Social Development, and UNICEF. To enable me to get a better understanding of the issues confronting children in Southeast Asia I spent several months traveling around Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, and Vietnam. Through a series of interviews with representatives from the United Nations, UNICEF, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) involved with children, I focused on child trafficking, the commercial sexual exploitation of children, children living on the streets, children in foster care, education/schools, children with disabilities, and programs for youth at risk of HIV/AIDS.”

Read the full interview